Silver Surfer #1
Issue(s): Silver Surfer #1
Up until now the Surfer has been depicted as a truly alien being. He truly could not comprehend humanity and even found things like eating food to be incredibly inefficient and foreign. He worked really well playing an angel to Galactus' god. He was some sort of immoral cosmic being stuck on a world of mortals, the best of whom taught him to have a conscience and the worst of whom fear and distrust him and drive him batty.
Now, however, we find out that he's basically just a bald human who got covered in silver armor, and he's had a conscience all along. Whereas previously it was strongly implied if not stated outright that the Surfer had helped Galactus destroy countless populated worlds, we are now told that the Surfer has been leading Galactus to empty worlds all along and Earth was the first world where there were people. Since this is the origin of the Surfer they stuck with (although there have been a few attempts at revising this back to the original, leading to some tangled continuity) i wasn't too disappointed but it really was a bad move and i imagine the reaction at the time wasn't pleasant.
The changes here are due to the difference in vision between the Surfer's (co?)creator Jack Kirby, who was shockingly not invited to work on this series, even though he'd started drawing pages, and Stan Lee.
The series will still be a nice showcase for John Buscema's art.
At the beginning of the issue, the Silver Surfer rescues Colonel Jameson. That man is always falling out of flying vehicles!
The back-up story has a totally redrawn origin of the Watcher. It was originally printed in Tales Of Suspense #53 but this version is illustrated by Gene Colan.
The next six issues will have "Tales of the Watcher" stories that redraw various stories from the Monster Age. With the exception of this issue, all of my issues of the original Silver Surfer series are reprints, so i won't be covering them even though they're technically sort-of in continuity thanks to the Watcher.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Jack Kirby wasn't happy about this at all; he believed the Surfer to be a being of pure energy. Fans reacted well to this at the beginning, but quickly grew tired of Stan Lee writing 24-page stories and having Buscema drag them out to nearly twice the length. This issue was satirized in Marvel's "Not Brand Ecch" a year later.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 6, 2011 9:25 PM
Another one I remember from Son of Origins. That last panel you scanned is one of the great all-time Surfer panels.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 24, 2015 11:24 AM
It's perhaps interesting to note that John Byrne attempted to mediate between the original Kirby conception of the Surfer as an energy being created ex nihilo by Galactus and the later Lee conception of him (here) as a supremely noble Christ-like human figure who sacrifices himself to save a world. In the crossover one-shot "Darkseid vs. Galactus: The Hunger," Byrne posits that Galactus suppressed Norrin Radd's memories and led him to believe that he had simply been created as an instrument of Galactus's will, which is why he led the world devourer to inhabited planets. Darkseid is able to exploit this situation as a way of turning the Surfer against Galactus, in a manner that anticipates his final rebellion on Earth (since this "what if" type story is apparently set well before the events of FF 48-50).
Although there are some big holes in the plot, that crossover issue has a lot of enjoyable aspects. It's surprising, though, how powerful Byrne depicts the Surfer as being. He easily vanquishes and nearly kills Orion, who is usually depicted as being at least on a par with Superman and has even defeated Darkseid in single combat. That bothered (bothers) me somewhat.
Back to SS #1: Buscema's artwork in this issue is absolutely spectacular and shows why he was sometimes called the "Michelangelo" of the comics. Agreed with the comment of Erik Beck, who apparently has tastes in comics somewhat similar to mine. (But Buscema's art did not remain at this exalted level through the series, which IMHO went downhill generally after issue #5.)
Posted by: Instantiation | July 19, 2015 12:54 AM
Kirby's conception of the Surfer was far better than that of Lee's. I certainly understand why Kirby decided to leave Marvel not long after this. Stan was a great scripter and skilled at characterization, but he was a mediocre plotter and lacked Kirby's and Ditko's imagination. The Marvel Universe and Silver Surfer as a character would have been better following the path Kirby laid out.
Posted by: Chris | September 30, 2017 11:18 PM
Alan Stewart of Attack of the 50 Year Old Comic Books has an interesting blog post about Silver Surfer #1. He explains the impact it had on him as a kid reading it when it first came out in 1968, and how years later as an adult he had to reappraise his view of it due to learning the background of the Silver Surfer's creation, how t character was basically conceived solely by Jack Kirby, and how Stan Lee soon became proprietary towards the character, giving him an origin that was very different from what Kirby had in mind...
Posted by: Ben Herman | June 18, 2018 8:36 PM
I enjoyed the Silver Surfer comic and I got to read it on a monthly basis after a fashion. In 1979 a reprint title appeared called Fantasy Masterpieces starring the Silver Surfer. It lasted 14 issues and also included a poorly reproduced Starlin Warlock/Magus run in #'s 7-14 which was a revelation to me at the time. Still one of the best Bronze Age stories ever written.
Posted by: KevinA | June 19, 2018 9:40 AM
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